Receiving Medical Treatment Under a Letter of Protection
After an accident, people who are uninsured often have little choice when it comes to paying for the health care needed for injuries they suffered. The responsible party and/or that party’s insurer rarely steps forward to pay for the treatment until a suit has been filed and some sort of resolution of the injured party’s claim, whether through a trial or a settlement, has been reached. This leaves the injured party in the lurch because he or she has to find some way to pay for the healthcare that he or she desperately needs to recover from an accident that was caused through no fault of their own. However, the party that caused those injuries is refusing to take responsibility. One of the options that some healthcare providers provide for patients who are uninsured and have been injured because of someone else’s negligence is to receive treatment under what is known as a letter of protection or LOP. A letter of protection is a contractual agreement between the victim and the healthcare provider that indicates the healthcare provider will be compensated for whatever treatment is provided to the injured party after his or her lawsuit is resolved.
First off, there is absolutely nothing wrong with receiving treatment under a letter of protection. Many people who are uninsured or otherwise cannot afford to pay for treatment for injuries they suffered due to someone else’s negligence may have no other way to receive and/or pay for badly needed medical treatment while their personal injury lawsuit is pending. The LOP provides the injured party a means to obtain the needed treatment but also gives the healthcare provider a means to obtain some sort of guarantee of eventual payment for those services. Unfortunately, these contractual arrangements often receive a bad rap because defense attorneys and insurers claim that accident victims or those injured by someone else’s negligence end up being overcharged for this treatment.
How does a Letter of Protection Work?
A letter of protection basically means that the physician or healthcare provider waits until the suit has resolved to also resolve his or her medical bills. This is most often accomplished through negotiations between a personal injury victim’s attorney and the healthcare provider in question. However, the most important thing to know about treatment received pursuant to an LOP is that you absolutely can recover for the expenses of that treatment under Florida law, regardless of whether the opposing party contests the amount that the healthcare provider billed for those services. Ultimately, it is up to the jury whether the amount that a healthcare provider has billed is what the treatment is worth.
Can a Defense Lawyer Hurt My Case if I Receive Treatment Pursuant to an LOP?
A defense attorney often will use the charges associated with treatment received by a personal injury plaintiff pursuant to a letter of protection as a means to attack the damages that a personal injury claimant is seeking to recover in a personal injury lawsuit. The defense attorney can and often will claim that the charges that a healthcare provider renders under an LOP are inflated when compared with what the same healthcare provider is paid for the same services by commercial health insurers. But this line of attack very often may backfire on the defense attorney. Some physicians do “charge” more under an LOP than they would if a patient is covered by health insurance.
However, an experienced healthcare provider will come right back and testify there is no guarantee the provider will ever be paid for the services provided to the personal injury plaintiff if, for instance, the patient takes his or her case to trial and loses. Therefore, the healthcare provider must take this risk into account if he or she chooses to provide treatment pursuant to an LOP. In addition, a smart plaintiff’s attorney also will point out that the victim had to receive treatment under an LOP in the first place because the party responsible for causing his or her injuries and/or that party’s insurer refused to step up and provide coverage for the healthcare treatment that the injured party desperately needed in the first place. Therefore, a defense attorney may attempt to attack the medical care you received pursuant to a letter of protection as unnecessary or the charges for that treatment are inflated, but that can just as easily backfire on the defense attorney as it can help him or her.
Contact Schwed, Adams & McGinley
At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, our experienced personal injury attorneys have represented clients who have been seriously injured in a variety of different scenarios for decades. The experienced personal injury attorneys of our firm have over 150 years of combined legal experience representing accident victims throughout Florida. We have represented numerous victims who were injured because of someone else’s negligence and were uninsured and received treatment for their injuries pursuant to an LOP. We aggressively negotiate with any healthcare providers at the conclusion of your lawsuit to ensure our client receives as much as possible from any settlement or other resolution of the client’s case. We also know how to handle defense lawyers who think they are scoring points by attacking the treatment our clients may have received pursuant to a letter of protection. If you or one of your loved ones has been injured by someone else’s negligence in Florida, contact our firm today at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (877) 694-6079 for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.